The weirdest thing about this play, Otherworld Theatre’s first full production in their new digs off Irving Park, is not that it’s a superhero comic come to life, one blatant affront after another to the naturalistic bylaws concerning who can and can’t fly and how to fight crime while flying or fight flying crimes in plays. It’s how enjoyable and moving playwright Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons’s excellently plotted saga turns out to be. Perfectra (Elizabeth C. MacDougald), once the envy of the universe with her robotically engineered superpowers and adoring fans, has reverted to mom status, grappling now not with evil but with the killer one-two of mom ills: love handles and plantar fasciitis. Stung by betrayal at Perfectra’s sudden disappearance from the scene, twisted fanboy Canius (Dylan Schaeffer, diabolical cackler extraordinaire) turns his science fair-winning invention, a serum that controls dogs’ behavior worldwide, into an evil tool for tracking down and exacting bloody vengeance upon his former idol. It’s a little like watching the show Rick and Morty colonize the synapses of a talented young theater company in real time, but the upshot is a piece that sounds real depths, earns more laughs than groans, and despite utter transports of dorkitude gets rich performances out of a committed ensemble.
A note on casting: there’s no way MacDougald is old enough to be her stage daughter Gaby Fernandez’s mom. But there’s also no way that the intrinsically fluffy and brilliant Rodrigo Arreola wasn’t born to play MacDougald’s man-size, scene-stealing dog. Nathan Pease directs. v